Boy, the internet sure has ruined our generation, hasn’t it?
Remember when people used to actually do things? They would go out. They would hold actual conversations. They would meet people. They would make a difference in the world!
Honestly, I’m just afraid for our generation. We’re all just so alone, and it’s all because of the internet, smartphones and social media.
Except it isn’t.
But that seems to be a popular opinion. At least, that’s what I hear on the internet. For example, a few years ago, a spoken word poet named Gary Turk released a video on YouTube called “Look Up” that got pretty popular. It featured a lot of people alone looking vaguely sad staring down at their phones or laptops with a dramatic solo piano track playing in the background.
“Look up from your phone, shut down your display,” he extols the viewer. “Stop watching this video. Live life the real way.”
I’m not exactly sure what he means by “the real way.” I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m really alive, but who knows? In any event, I don’t think many people took his advice, because at the time as I’m writing this, the video has received more than 59 million views. From people on the internet. Living life the “fake way,” presumably. Like sheeple.
And, based on the fact that Turk’s videos are monetized, he better hope people continue ignoring his advice.
I know, I know. It’s a lot of fun to bash technology, isn’t it? Especially if you’re a millennial. It shows you’re not like most millennials. No, you’re a millennial who was born in the wrong decade. You’re an old soul.
At least, that’s what you say on Twitter.
But it’s just a tired, cliched argument to say technology is making us more isolated, and more removed from reality. It’s not poignant, it’s not deep, it’s not new and it doesn’t solve anything, so I don’t waste my time worrying about it. I have too many cat videos to watch.
I’m not going to say the internet hasn’t dramatically changed our world. I’m also not going to say those changes are all necessarily good. But when technology finally does take over, the singularity is reached and the robots make us our slaves, no amount of I-should-have-lived-in-the-1920s Tumblr posts will save you.
No, we’re all going down together, and we all know it’s probably for the best. The robots will do a good job running the world.
But we still have at least a few decades before we have to worry about that. For now, it’s important that we realize most of the bad things about our world today aren’t actually the result of the internet. They’re a result of humans being bad at stuff. And we’ve been bad at stuff for hundreds of thousands of years.
One thing we’re really bad at is connecting with other people. I mean really, really connecting with other people on more than just a superficial level. You don’t really understand anyone, and no one really understands you. Whether you’re attempting to make that connection over coffee or over Facebook, something is probably going to get lost in translation. But, eh, it’s worth a shot, at least.
In other words, you’re not lonely because of the internet. You’re lonely because that’s life. Get used to it.
And a quick note to our future robot overlords: My only real skill is writing snarky think pieces. That’ll still be useful under your new world order, right? Right??
William T. Perkins is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. How do you feel about the internet? Let William know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A sentence in this article was reworded for clarity.